Harper Trophy, 2005
Septimus Heap, the seventh son of the seventh son, disappears the night he is born, pronounced dead by the midwife. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across an abandoned child in the snow—a newborn girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take her into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?
This series is often compared to Harry Potter, but I think in many ways it’s much different. The only parallels that I see are that it involves a boy, who at one point is an orphan, and magic. Definitely written for a younger audience, the Septimus books have a tendency to be a little silly sometimes and the endings easily resolved. However, in contrast, Sage deftly creates an interesting world with often odd and humorous characters who have the ability to surprise the reader.The plot structures of each story vary, and, to any fantasy reader’s great joy, she doesn’t use the same antagonist throughout every single book. Some of the characters switch sides, and other, new bad guys emerge as the series progresses. Also, unlike many series writers, Sage will start a chain of events that last throughout several books, continuing to hook readers from book to book. She does not wrap everything up neatly, but is still able to finish a book in a way that makes the story seem complete. Then, the reader has the anticipation of discovering how some of the issues that arise in earlier books will unravel in later additions.
One of the things that I love specifically about this book in particular is that it’s about a boy, Septimus Heap, who has no idea that he is, in fact Septimus Heap, nor does he understand that he’s the hero or protagonist of the story. In fact, nearly the entire story he spends thinking he’s someone else entirely. This was a new and interesting twist on the typical boy with magic powers story, and Sage does an excellent job of creating interesting scenarios that surprise and delight, especially for readers who explore this genre a lot. She seems to break many of the typical fantasy tropes and creates what is a unique and enjoyable story. I recommend this to all readers 9+, skewing more toward boys.
For the Classroom
Since this text operates in a parallel world with separate cultures, societal issues, natural laws and histories than our own, there’s not much to use as a classroom companion.